How Do I Start My Planted Tank?

  • #1
Hello! A couple months ago I got a 10 gallon tank for my minnows. It had grunt blue gravel and 1 live plant as well as one fake plant. I recently decided to plant the tank but it seems so hard. Can anyone give me the basic steps that I will be able to understand?I

Edit: thank you so much for everyone who replied! You guys are a big help! I was wondering if anyone could point me at the best lights/fertilizer and other products that are best/you use in your tanks. Thank you again!
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  • #2
There's a lot of good information in this forum and other forums (I can recommend planted tank). Generally, a successful planted tank needs these things:

(1) Lighting: Usually classified into low/medium/high light, your tank will most likely have relatively low lighting. You'll want to keep the hours of light per day to between 6-8 to minimise algae growth.

(2) Fertilisers: Plants require micronutrients (iron, magnesium, calcium, etc.) and macronutrients (nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium). Most people dose either liquid or dry (powder) mixes of fertilisers to supply the full range of nutrients necessary for growth. The amount of fertiliser needed depends on your level of light and your CO2. I'd advise further reading on Estimative Index (EI) fertiliser dosing as a starting point. A quick Google search shows up lots of guides/resources.

(3) Carbon dioxide: Many people inject CO2 into aquariums to provide a carbon source for their plants to provide that fast, lush, green growth. But it can be expensive to set up. Some people use DIY CO2: some use yeast, I (and others) use citric acid and bicarbonate soda. There's also "liquid carbon" supplements like Seachem Excel which can partially substitute for injection of CO2.

(4) Plants: Of course, a planted tank can't happen without plants. Assuming the most likely scenario that your lighting is low, you'll want to purchase plants who flourish in low lighting environments: anubias, crypts, swords, wisteria, rotala, hygro. These are all common examples.

(5) Patience: Growing plants can be quite slow, and sometimes requires frequent trial-and-error to get that right balance of light-CO2-fertiliser. Take time to understand the basics and do a bit of research on common problems to make sure you're prepared for when they happen.
  • #3
Wisteria. You stick in into your gravel and it grows.
  • #4
Plant a lot, front to back with as many plants as you can stuff in. Leave some growing room but not much. Use cheap stem plants to fill in the gaps, you can throw them out later. Don't overdo the light. Fertilise and provide liquid carbon though liquid carbon can be hard on sensitive species like cardinals. I double-dose it myself with no problems but I do split the dose.
  • #5
I would go really simple to get yourself started, plants like Anubias and Java fern are super simple, you just attach them to a piece of wood or stone and they are good to go and they don't require special lighting or added fertilizers. Anacharis (Elodea) is also really easy and grows very fast, you can either let it float or sit it on the substrate and it will root itself. I also love floating plants like dwarf water lettuce they look really cool with the roots growing down in the tank.
  • #6
you do need decent lighting, don't always need ferts depending on the plants you have. anubias, java ferns and other rhizome plants generally don't need ferts but will grow faster if you do dose. carbon is also not needed unless your doing a high tech plant setup with plants that require it but your inhabitants usually produce enough co2 for low-medium tech plants. although it also depends on how heavily planted it is. you should get something like sand or plant soil which is easier for rooted plants to grow their roots, if you go with a substrate with no nutrients then you will need root tabs if you have root feeders

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